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Martin: Cowboys to run same plays sans Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott's see-saw suspension spectacle has frustrated fantasy owners and Dallas Cowboys fans alike. In the midst of a back-and-forth legal battle that has spanned two district courts over three months, the running back's availability on a week-to-week basis has been up in the air.

This week against the Kansas City Chiefs -- and possibly for the five after that -- Elliott likely will be absent, after U.S. District Court Judge Katherine P. Failla denied the NFL Players Association's request for a preliminary injunction in its case against the NFL, reinstating the back's six-game suspension.

Replacing Elliott in the Dallas stable will be a trio of backs -- Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, Rod Smith -- though the pace car has yet to be determined. Morris and Smith have combined for 23 carries, while McFadden has not been active for a game this season.

Regardless of who starts or who finishes games next to Dak in Big D, the Cowboys don't intend to change their philosophy in the running game.

"It really doesn't," guard Zack Martin told the Dallas Morning-News on Tuesday, on whether Zeke's ban affects the offense. "We're going to run the exact same plays. Everyone is going to know what we're running and it's just whether or not we can execute for these guys to make plays."

Zeke's suspension came down this week just as Dallas' ground game was getting into a groove. The Cowboys had rushed for at least 163 yards in each of their last four contests, and Elliott had gone over three bills and carried the ball at least 26 times in their last three. Dallas is fifth in the league in run-pass balance, running the ball on 47.6 percent of their plays.

In short, Dallas' troika of replacement runners have a lot to live up to.

We still don't know if the Cowboys running the "exact same plays" means that they'll keep the same run-play balance. After all, before Zeke's recent resurgence, Prescott had been taking greater control of and responsibility in the offense and remains one of the league's most efficient passers and most dangerous escape artists.

So Dallas could ask Dak and the passing game to shoulder the load in Zeke's absence, but all eyes will rightly be on the M&MS coalition as they attempt to replace Elliott's services, and his production, play by play.

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